My mom and I have lived next door to an elderly couple for about 3 years now. Over time, I've seen the woman doing a number of things suggesting to me that she is probably experiencing auditory hallucinations and perhaps some kind of paranoia, or other delusional thought process, or highly unusual thought process at least. She and her husband both seem to be somewhat unusual and mainly keep to themselves, though very rarely now and then have conversations with another neighbor on the street, and every once in awhile I've seen a couple people visiting them who seem to be family. It's often unclear to me if both husband and wife are engaging in some of the odd behaviors together (all of this is stuff happening on the street/sidewalk by the way), but more frequently I just see the woman doing this (though I think both spend most of the day at home).
What's prompting my concern is just that the woman seems to be doing these things that seem odd more and more frequently. The behaviors change with time but at present she is going around over and over to the same locations on the street and staring very intently at particularly things for quite some time, sometimes speaking softly and tersely on and off, and will do this for quite a long time (over and hour or more) on most occasions, and repeatedly throughout the day and into the evening, on most days. I haven't seen her go into anyone's yard but she does go right up to stare at things. Some times maybe taking pictures.
As far as other possibly relevant indicators, their house has significantly unkempt foliage of all kinds in front and back (like to the point of appearing quite chaotic with a fairly unusable backyard) but not unsafe per se. They are always timely with bring trash, recycling, and compost bins to the curb and back each week. Very rarely I see the man driving their car.
It's really mainly the increasing frequency and amount of time spent on the behavior that's worrying me. It's easily apparent so that if I have anyone over they almost always ask about it at some point. My mom is worried too and has experience in a mental health triage setting (I have some experience around clinical social work).
Basically I don't see any signs suggesting abuse or self neglect, and I have no idea anything about my neighbors aside from observations. We had a brief conversation once, prompted in fact by something I was doing at the time which understandably might have appeared quite odd (sprinkling diatomaceous earth to prevent pests around our building on advice from a professional), which is also to say, I definitely don't want to put myself in a position of presuming to define odd vs normal behavior. I want to respect their privacy & dignity as individuals & as a family. I definitely don't want to cause unnecessary intervention into their lives. I also don't want to sit idly by while someone's mental state deteriorates to an unsafe condition if there are clear signs (now or in the future) that show a line is being crossed.
I'm not asking anyone to assume the role of expert but just wondering if anyone can share some advice, broadly speaking. I wish I had the sort of neighborly relationship where it wouldn't be abrupt to suddenly go over and check on how they're doing, but that's not the case. However if it seems warranted I would want to figure out how to go about doing this. The easiest advice to receive is basically stop overreacting and mind my own business, but I just wanted to try to reach out somewhere and ask.
Thank you, I welcome thoughts and questions, I apologize for not providing a more concise question.
It is okay to reach out and meet your neighbors.
I am sure that they would appreciate any effort to be kind. This is the only way to know if all is well. My elderly neighbors all know that they can call us or ring our doorbell if they have a need. Be the kind neighbors that they know they can reach out to in an emergency.
I hope that the professional told you that you have to reapply the DE if it gets wet.
Yeah, like at the moment I'd have to put it out there every day, if it isn't downpouring that day! I'd forgotten I have bags of this until reading this - if it ever stops raining here (can we ship it back to the west coast for a while!!?!?!?!?), I need to get it out there... I keep the cat food bowls off the floor because of ants and until this year was successful, but they've found it!
Now, if it will stop raining...
As for the neighbors, maybe bringing a nice treat to them can open up a neighborly relationship, at least enough to see if their living is "safe." Sounds like maybe the gent is "okay" and the wife has some delusions?
The police ended up calling me (who had just been there all day, for heaven's sake), but after feeling a little bent about the unnecessary intrusion, I was glad that some busybody had called, because it led to some conversations with my folks about their general safety at home. Mom was in the earlier stages of dementia, and while Dad was perfectly healthy, he was nonetheless in his late 80s and not exactly Superman any longer. As it happened, Dad passed away less than a year later, much to our dismay, and I had to take over Mom's care.
For the record, we never found out who made the call, though we have our suspicions. (I'm looking at you, Doris!) However, when all was said and done, the police ended up with the contact information of my parents' kids, and that was a very good thing.
All you could really do is call for a welfare check or APS. They won't reveal who called. Would be better to call for a welfare check while she's out doing things.
Then you have a valid reason to check on them, just a friendly Hey Neighbour - can't be accused of snooping or ruffling any feathers.
If this were a potential client, and a neighbor reported her to you, what action would you take?
You could keep an informal journal of observations. That way if there really is a significant uptick whether in frequency or severity or risk to anyone you'll spot it early. And keep the door open to communication in the hope that she'll gradually come to see you as someone trustworthy she can turn to.
I wouldn’t call the police or APS just yet. She isn’t hurting anyone. Befriend her. She probably would like to have someone to talk to.
I think a wellness check is not out of order, seeing that the woman may be off her medications or in need of having some prescribed.
They're your neighbors! Go over, introduce yourself, and ask if everything is all right!
This neighbor had a son, who was powerless to be able to help his father. So we were pretty much just on our own to deal with the uneasiness of having him as a neighbor. He was an accident waiting to happen (especially when he decided to cook).
I guess there’s not much anyone can do from outside the family of your neighbors. My mother’s neighbors reported to me when my dad was falling and my mom was leaving him on his own for long periods of times. I lived 350 miles away from them, but I was able to get involved when my dad fell when I was visiting them. I was able to speak to social workers at the hospital, and from there my dad was assessed that he wasn’t safe at home anymore. He had to go into a nursing home. I then had to move my mother close by to us. But as immediate family, I was able to step in and take charge.
Wikipedia: As of 2017, close to 95% of the population in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico and Washington, DC) has access to 2-1-1 services. More than 200 agencies, including United Ways, provide 2-1-1 services.
Inoted of just observing, be neighborly and just bake some cookies and take it over to them.
Next time you see her staring or talking, go up to her and say hi, how are you doing today and ask her if she needs any help.
Sometimes people with mental issues, don't take care of cleaning down there.
it’s shocking that someone wrote this!
Stick up in body wash in case the karma fairy gets you!
The routine of properly taking out the trash, etc., suggests they are not incapacitated.
if you think they are struggling, wouldn’t it be nicer to bring them dinner than report them to the authorities?
I remember the “good old days” when neighbors would engage in acts of kindness towards each other instead.
I highly recommend Netflix if you need a new reality show.
I don’t want to accuse you of being a busybody. You have observed your neighbors actions and wish to discuss how you feel, and receive feedback from the forum.
Most of us have had curious neighbors at some point in their lives. Perhaps they mean well and may be genuinely concerned. Other times they are a nuisance. I think Erikka made a great suggestion to utilize 211 services in your area if you don’t wish to be directly involved. You can remain anonymous if you wish. They will take the appropriate action by checking up on your neighbors. Who knows how they may react to you? Your concerns may or may not be appreciated by them.
The advice of contacting the appropriate resources is often given as advice on this forum. Reach out for help, without taking on the responsibility of being ‘hands on’ help, regarding their needs. It isn’t necessary in every situation to become personally involved.
So, unless you wish to open an unknown door with these neighbors by heading over to their home, let professionals investigate the situation. Some people regret opening a door, if things become awkward. Take care.
My MIL wasn’t a nosy neighbor. She called 2-1-1 when a neighbor asked her if she could provide dinner leftovers on a regular basis. MIL couldn’t handle the expectation. .
Another person in another state called 2-1-1 when a 67 yo relative blew through $500,000 after his wife’s death & lost his house to his new golddigger bride who then walked out - and then called out of the blue for money. Problem was, he needed real help, not a $10,000 bandaid. And if he ran through 1/2 mil in 2 years, he’d run through $10,000 and make another sob story call.
2-1-1 offered a smart alternative to insanity.
What a sad story. 211 is a great service! Calling 211 was absolutely the best solution. No one thought of your mother in law as nosy. She was super smart for not volunteering to be your neighbor’s crutch.
It wasn’t your mother in law’s responsibility to become involved with her neighbor. Deciding not to bring food over everyday certainly doesn’t make her an uncaring neighbor! I wouldn’t have agreed to that either. No one likes to be put on the spot like that.
No one has a right to criticize your mother in law for not being willing to be inconvenienced. I don’t blame her. I seriously doubt that anyone who would accuse your mother in law of being unneighborly, would bring dinner over to someone every single night! I don’t even cook for my husband and I every night. We eat out on a whim sometimes.
I am so glad that this situation was resolved by allowing professionals to handle it.
“this too shall pass “